Abstract

Personal data digitization has dramatically blurred the lines between personal and professional lives (Leidner and Tona 2021). This promotes hiring managers to routinely vet job applicants’ social media profiles as part of the hiring process (social media screening; hereafter, SM screening). While SM screening may reveal authentic aspects of job applicants that may inform hiring decisions, it also exposes hiring managers to a plethora of nondiagnostic information—personal information on social media irrelevant to job performance including hobbies, preferences, and personal background. Since some social media (e.g., Facebook and X) are primarily used for hedonic purposes, the nondiagnostic information, which lacks direct relevance to job performance, can be frequently encountered during SM screening. This study explores the impact of a kind of nondiagnostic information on hiring decisions: sports fan affiliation. Sports is one of the most popular themes on social media. Our preliminary analysis of social media pages finds that many of the most-liked accounts/pages on social media (e.g., Facebook and Instagram) are directly related to sports. In addition, many social media users like to show their sports fan affiliation by adding favorite team emblems to profile pictures, uploading stadium photos, discussing match outcomes, liking fan pages, and mentioning sports affiliation in personal bios. In addition, it is important to note that unlike popular information on social media such as political or religious affiliation, sports fandom does not imply any personal values, attitudes, and beliefs, as it is essentially a matter of personal preference. We contend that sports fan affiliation, as a form of nondiagnostic information, could influence the initial impressions and evaluations hiring managers form during SM screening. Drawing on the literature on dilution effects (Nisbett et al. 1981), we propose that exposure to sports fan affiliations on social media might mitigate the influence of more diagnostic information (e.g., work-related and demographic details) in applicant assessments. Our study will involve an online experiment in which participants assess mock job applicants based on social media profiles that we will craft. We believe our study will contribute to the IS literature by examining how content found on social media may influence one of the primary organizational processes.

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